Welcome Stranger

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Finding the Welcome Stranger nugget  (1869) 
John Deason
An account by John Deason, the man who found the Welcome Stranger nugget, as detailed when he was 75 yrs old on November 23rd 1905. The nugget is one of the largest alluvial gold finds. It was found in 1869 near Moliagul, Victoria, Australia towards the end of the Victorian gold rush.

It was between 9 and 10am on the fifth of February 1869. I was at work picking the surface for puddling and put the pick in the ground and felt what I thought was a stone, the second blow struck in the same way and the third also.

I scraped the ground with the pick and saw gold; then I cleared away further and right around the nugget. There was a stringy bark root going right across it and a small bit of gold stood up and the root of the stringy bark ran through this. I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface. It weighed nearly three hundred weight (4,300oz), at first there was much quartz with the gold. As the nugget lay in the ground, the solid piece of gold was underneath and it was deep in the ground but the top of the nugget was not more than 1" below the surface. The nugget was about 18" long by 16" wide and about 16" deep. My mate, Richard Oates, was working a short distance below the puddling machine in his paddock and I send my son down to call him. When my mate came, I said, "What do you think of it Dick? It is worth about 5,000 pounds?" "Oh" he said "more like 2,000 pounds".

We then got the dray and lifted the nugget into it and carted it down to my hut, which stood about 1 1/2 chain to the north of the old puddling machine. We took it out of the dray and put it in the fireplace, built a good fire on it and kept it burning for about 10 hours, leaving it cool for 2 hours, we sat up all night breaking it free from quartz. My wife, my mate and myself were the only persons who saw the nugget as it was first found.

When it was cool we broke 70lbs. quartz away from it . Besides detached pieces of gold there was one solid piece of it that weighted 128 lbs. troy (1,536 oz.). This was on the bottom of the nugget as it lay on the ground. There was a great deal of loose gold when the quartz was broken off. The 70 lbs. of quartz broken away had course and fine gold through it. It was taken to Mr. Edward Udey's battery close by and a load of other quartz with no gold in it was crushed with it and 60 oz. of smelted gold was obtained.

Several small pieces of gold and quartz were broken off and given to friends after the burning. About 5 oz. of gold was given away and this has never been reckoned in with the weight of the nugget as sold to the bank. I still have a small piece of the gold, the only bit that is left (2-3dwts now in the Melbourne National Museum). The total weight of the gold was over 200 lbs. troy (2,400 oz.)

It was put in a calico bag and taken in Mr. Edey's spring cart to the London Bank, Dunolly. My mate, Mr. Udey and I went with it. The gold was smelted and yielded 2,380 oz. of gold 23 carots fine. The bank paid us 9,583 pounds for it.

This work is is in the public domain because it was created in Australia and the term of copyright has expired.

See Australian Copyright Council - Duration of Copyright (February 2012).


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1915, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.